Ronnie O’Sullivan was the comfortable winner of his 5th World Snooker Championship title in 2013 and the bookmakers have installed him as the clear favourite to win this year

Recommendations

Neil Robertson 9/1 each way (1/2 the odds top 2) BetVictor

Ali Carter 50/1 each way ( 1/2 odds top 2) Bet365

Ronnie is a best price of  6/4, 8/1 bar him, to win his 6th title at the Crucible starting this weekend – that would leave him behind only Stephen Hendry in the all-time winners list.  Despite playing far less snooker than any of his major rivals over the last few years, he will once again prove very difficult to beat in the World’s. Assuming he is in the right frame of mind, he remains comfortably the best player on the circuit.

Second favourite is Ding Junhui, the form player this season who has won five ranking events including the most recent one, the China Open. He lost last year to to Barry Hawkins in the quarter-finals. He will certainly be a real danger this time around.

World Number One is 2010 champion Neil Robertson, who suffered a surprise 1st round exit to Robert Milkins last year. Robertson has won the Wuxi Classic and the UK Championship this season and lost in the recent final in China to Ding

Mark Selby has never won the World Championship and has often underperformed at the Crucible after storming the tour events all season long. Judd Trump made the semi-finals here last year only to lose 17-11 to O’Sullivan. With a final and semi-final appearance in the last three years, he clearly loves the Crucible stage.

The current odds are as follows

Ronnie O’ Sullivan 6/4

Ding Junhui 8/1

Neil Robertson 9/1

Mark Selby 10/1

Judd Trump 11/1

20/1 Bar

It would be a surprise if the winner came from outside those five names, though as Barry Hawkins and Ricky Walden showed last season in making the final and semi-final respectively, the draw can open up and there is often each way value in an outsider, especially if a few favourites fall early

Now we have to consider the draw, which for the top sixteen seeds is already mapped out to the final, and apply that to the odds on offer. The first point of interest is that Ronnie and Ding are drawn in the same half, and scheduled to meet in the semi-finals. Immediately, because the books offer 1/2 the odds each way 1-2, we can see there is some value in the other half

There we find Robertson and Trump in the same quarter, and Selby in the other quarter. I am happy, from a betting perspective to let Ronnie and Ding fight it out in one half and try to find value in the other. Here it is impossible to ignore Neil Robertson at 9-1 and each way we are getting 9-2 the Australian to win his half.

As an outsider I look to the Selby quarter where we find Ali Carter. Carter reached the semi-finals of the China Open, beaten by Robertson. Carter has a teak tough matchplay temperament and the long games at the Crucible, over a minimum of 19 frames really suit him. Runner up in this twice, the last time as recently as 2012 he is back in form, the major seed in his quarter is beatable at the Crucible and best of all we can get 50-1 each way half the odds top two and with a run we can trade around that price later on

Recommendations

Neil Robertson 9/1 each way (1/2 the odds top 2) BetVictor

Ali Carter 50/1 each way ( 1/2 odds top 2) Bet365